Hamas shows new tunnels built in Gaza.
(photo credit: ARAB MEDIA)
The arrest of two Gazans with terrorism-financing cash hidden in their shoes enabled Israel to gain valuable intelligence on the underground network of tunnels Hamas and Islamic Jihad are digging in Gaza.
Security forces disclosed on Tuesday that they nabbed two Gazans in June trying to smuggle cash from the Strip to Hamas operatives in the West Bank to finance terrorism.
A joint Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Israel Police Southern District and IDF operation resulted in the arrest on June 16 of 65-year-old Faiz Atar from Bet Lahia in Gaza, who had a permit to enter Israel to conduct trade.
The suspect was taken into custody at the Tarkumia crossing between Israel and the West Bank.
The Shin Bet said the suspect hid cash in his shoes for Hamas, and smuggled tens of thousands of euros to terrorist operatives in the West Bank.
As the investigation continued, the domestic intelligence agency gleaned valuable information on Atar’s family in Gaza and their activities on behalf of Hamas, including tunnel digging.
“It emerged that his sons made use of his home to meet with Hamas operatives. The investigation revealed information on tunnel openings, which are partly located underneath civilian structures – including innocent civilian residential buildings and mosques – and rocket launch locations, which are located near civilian structures in a manner that endangers the civilian population in the Strip,” the Shin Bet said in a statement.
Meanwhile, a second investigation launched by the Shin Bet, Israel Police, and IDF forces also began with a terrorism-financing suspect and ended with additional intelligence on Gazan tunnels.
Security forces nabbed a Gazan resident at the Erez Crossing in June with 10,000 euros stuffed in his shoes, intended for Hamas operatives in the West Bank. When the suspect, identified as Jabaliya resident Itallah Sarahan, 37, was questioned, security forces learned that he received a permit to enter Israel for trade purposes two weeks prior to his arrest.
On his first day visiting Israel, a Hamas policeman on the Gazan side of the crossing asked Sarahan if he would smuggle cash to Hamas in the West Bank. Sarahan “expressed his willingness to do so,” the Shin Bet said, leading the Hamas police officer to take him to a meeting with the Islamist regime’s operatives, who paid him for the mission and provided him with special shoes in which the money was hidden.
He was promised help if he got caught by Israeli authorities.
Sarahan allegedly smuggled funds on the day before his arrest, as well being caught with more cash on the day of his arrest.
The suspect works as a truck driver in Gaza, clearing sand from Hamas and Islamic Jihad tunnel digging sites. “Sarahan passed on much information about the tunnels he was exposed to, including which terrorist organization was responsible for digging which tunnels, their exact locations, and the status of the digging work,” the Shin Bet said.
The investigation underlines Hamas’s cynical use of Israeli efforts to ease economic conditions for the Gazan civilian population. Thousands of Gazans enter Israel every month for humanitarian, medical, and trade purposes, and Hamas often attempts to exploit these entries to transfer terrorist finances, the Shin Bet said.